Mustering Cattle with Clever dogs

To watch this video in HD (recommended) use the Youtube button in the lower right corner, then select HD from the options, again in the lower right corner. Remember to come back and add your comments.

I was just talking to Mitchell Grambauer and he said that watching this video in HD “beat the hell out of watching television”. He added that he was impressed about the calmness in the cattle and the dogs. “How far have you got to travel to see dogs able to guide livestock, even cows and calves, with both dominance and fairness?”

The initial cast from the young Milburn Bitch, Moss is perfect in my terrain. You can see that she cruises around the flight zone of the mob and stops at the weight point represented by a single cow who tests her mettle. As the cow yields from the correct amount of pressure, Moss continues her outrun to affect the lift on the mob. Tracker the Chief, and his daughter, Tracker Suki, assist her with some fairdinkum walk up, without violence but with intent.

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Wyoming/Utah USA

Behold, it came to pass that Sean and I visited with our fantastic host family, The Taylors. This is no ordinary family as the patriarch, Dr Robert, or Bob or just Doc to his friends is none other than the star of the Animal Planet’s “Emergency Vets” show, now “retired” to a fully functioning commercial cattle ranch in South West Wyoming called Lonetree.

As you can plainly see he wasn’t chosen for his good looks, but, for his skill and dedication as an Orthopedic Veterinary surgeon.

Animal Planets Meet Dr Bob

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The 10 Commandments

1.   Instinct.

Do your homework. A young pup generally has a potential governed by his ancestors, and the recent ones are the most pertinent. Would you bet on a Corgi at the dog track?

2.   The Eyes are a Camera.

Don’t waste the effort you put into achieving the first goal of selecting for the very best instincts by allowing the young pup to run amuck on his own or with other dogs. Don’t chain him up and wait for him to grow out, but do teach him to tie up and lead correctly. He needs to spend quality time with you to be able to graduate from Kindergarten and then primary school etc. Develop the invisible rope and then lengthen it. If you have more than one dog introduce them to group feeding. This is possibly the most important technique to establish a caring dominance over your pack. Expect and develop basic manners when walking, going through doors and gates, leaving the kennel or releasing the chain. That pup should now want to “photograph” you due to mutual respect.

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W.A.I.T (Work as I train)

Is a program of fully training a pup at work while attending to the daily jobs on a farm. It does require that the handler can properly and safely restrain the pup in the work place when it would otherwise be at risk of injury or death. The pup must have the genetic potential to control livestock naturally as there are very few vocalisations from the handler other than a call and words of encouragement. Screaming and words like Argh are banned. A rapport between handler and pup must have been developed in the camp before training begins. (eyes are a camera, group feeding etc.)

The WAIT program is successful because doing real jobs tends to take some of the handlers attention away from the pup allowing it to solve problems on its own and to allow its inherent genetic makeup to be expressed. Also, while doing real work the handler tends to vary the exercises by necessity and work the pup down so he learns to pace himself. Just remember it is a pup so match the job to its physical and mental capabilities.

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Flock/Mob Work

The response to the 500 metre rule has been awesome with many of you reporting a really positive response from your pups. I mentioned that, after you have mastered the 500 metre rule, move on to general flock/mob work. Here is a guide:

  1. Choose a larger mob, 40 to 50 animals is ideal.
  2. The livestock should be moving away from the yards so that they move freely.
  3. Position yourself behind the mob, zigzagging from eye to eye of the leaders.
  4. If possible, have an experienced dog with you. (on the bike or on a lead)
  5. As the stock are walking along allow the pup to be drawn up one side to the head. If they run, allow the pup to head them until they stop, then call him back along the same side he went up. If they just continue to walk along allow him to get to about 2/10 o’clock then call him back that same side.
  6. Repeat this exercise on the other side.
  7. Your pup, with the right genetics, will quickly learn to drove stock, at the walk, if they run on he will move forward into the retard section of the leader’s eye, but not directly in front of them. If they slow down or stop he will come back towards you into the drive section of the eye.
  8. When your pup has mastered the basics of this exercise, vary it a bit by leaving a couple behind so he looks for problems to solve. To finish the exercise move ahead of the mob  and allow your pup to balance it to you.
  9. This exercise is a good reinforcement of the call. Each call is followed by encouragement to work on the opposite wing.
  10. Other than the call your voice will only emit sounds of encouragement for your pup. Even if he is making mistakes, encourage with your voice, correct with your body position.

Good luck and post any questions in the comment box below.

The 500 metre Rule

This is a part of an email I sent to a friend who I believed was introducing formal training to a young pup too early in its development. It is important to allow a young dog from these bloodlines to learn from experience rather than from instruction.

If he was mine I would make sure he could balance that trainer mob to me without any commands. Just use the rake to protect your livestock if he is a bit too keen. ( He will only be too keen because he is too fresh so go for a longer walk. Sean and I have a new training rule which is working really well.

It’s called the 500 metre rule.

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